Another efficient game by the Escalon JV football Cougars saw them dispatch the visiting Liberty Ranch Hawks by a 42-6 finale on Friday.
The squad started out with a bang, as they kicked off to the visitors but Chase Granis forced a fumble on the return, recovered by teammate Kaden Christensen. Twenty-five yards later, the host team was in the end zone with the kick good by Guillermo Alvarez for a 7-0 lead with just a handful of seconds ticked off the clock.
Escalon scored in every quarter; Liberty Ranch had just one score, in the second quarter and they briefly trimmed the lead to 7-6.
“We scored just before halftime,” head coach Andrew Beam said of going up by a 14-6 score with a 46-yard pass play from Lucca Dutra to Frank Leal for the touchdown.
Three scores in the third quarter put the game out of reach, but the home team tacked on one final touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“Our leader really was Dutra, he was 4-for-7 with three touchdowns and 132 yards,” Beam said. “On a night we struggled to run the football, we needed to throw it and he threw it well.”
The JV Cougars, for the first time in as long as Beam can remember, rushed for less than 100 yards on the night. The team also had some uncharacteristic penalties, called for six of them in the first half alone. Fortunately, the visiting Hawks couldn’t capitalize on those miscues.
“The penalties slowed down our momentum,” added Beam.
Making some adjustments at halftime, the JV Cougars came out strong from the locker room and made a statement right away.
“Jordan Gwartney took the second half kickoff and ran it back 82 yards for a touchdown,” Beam explained. “It turned the game around, it was a hard run, he shook a couple of tackles.”
Buoyed by the score, the defense then stepped up big, forcing Liberty Ranch to a three and out. On their ensuing possession, the host team pulled off a well-executed hook-and-lateral from Dutra to Alexis Jimenez to Christensen, going for a 59-yard touchdown play. Christensen would add another rushing touchdown in the third and Alvarez was good on all three extra points in the third quarter, hitting all six for the game.
Escalon capped off the scoring with a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Dutra to Devin Roberson.
“Defensively, Alexis Jimenez had an interception, Damien Tom and Cole Gilbert had their best game, each with a sack and leading in tackles, it was the best game they have played,” Beam said. “They dictated the pace of the game.”
A total of seven penalties for the JV Cougars and a turnover made for a somewhat sloppy game early on, but Beam said they came out with a stronger effort in the second half.
“It was a good win,” he said.
The 4-0 JV team now gets ready for Homecoming on Friday night, Sept. 23 hosting Patterson in a 5:30 p.m. contest.
“Patterson has more speed than we’ll see all year long,” noted Beam. “It’s a game where we will have to match up against their athleticism; it will be a good challenge.”